Commencement
Past Honorary Degree Recipients

Thomas T. Yamauchi

  • Tom was in his first year at Seattle College when orders excluding Japanese Americans from the West Coast were issued. He was sent to the temporary detention center at the Puyallup Fairgrounds, he in Block 13, before being sent to the more permanent camp at Minidoka, Idaho. His family was incarcerated near the family of his childhood sweetheart, Anne.

    He prized education and was eager to return to school. Like many internees, he did not let the delay deter him from his goals. He resumed his education at Gonzaga then moved to Detroit, where his family had relocated, and enrolled at University of Detroit. His education again was put on hold when was drafted. He left for basic training with the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The Army sent him to engineering school at the University of North Carolina, but he returned to Detroit, where he was finally able to complete his bachelor's degree.

    There, he and his longtime love, Anne, finally married and started a family. Tom and Anne returned to Seattle, where Tom earned a master's degree at the University of Washington and became a top manager on Boeing's lunar orbiter project. He later worked as vice president of engineering for the Northrup Aircraft Corp. in Hawthorne, Calif. Tom and Anne's family eventually grew to include their four children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Tom retired in 1989 and died just a year later on Oct. 31, 1990.